Vienna, 24 July 2016
We’re in Vienna briefly, on our way back to Bangkok from the annual training course I give in Budapest and using the occasion to visit the warehouse where our stuff has been stored away these last seven years to agree on when to start moving it, and to where, when I retire in a month’s time. We’ve used the occasion to spend the weekend here.
On Saturday morning, we visited an exhibition of Ai Wei Wei’s work, my wife’s favourite modern artist, which is spread between the 21er Haus and the Upper Belvedere. While we were at it, we also had a quick zip around the Upper Belvedere’s permanent collection – there is a lovely set of Schieles and Klimts. Then, footsore and thirsty, we took a D tram back into the city centre and headed for a café to have a drink and a rest.
Once revivified, we pondered where to go next. I suggested the Leopold Museum, which is holding an exhibition of a rather minor Austrian painter of the 19th Century, and so we dragged ourselves rather slowly in that direction. But on the way, we saw another D tram clank past, and since it was a glorious day we decided on the spur of the moment to hop on and ride to the end of the line, to Nussdorf, which lies at the foot of the hills that overlook the city. As the name suggests, Nussdorf, Nut Village, was indeed once an independent village but is now a suburb of Vienna. Presumably it once was known for its walnuts or hazelnuts, but several hundred years ago it planted vineyards on the slopes above it and thereby made its fortune selling thirsty Viennese Grüner Veltliner wines.
Now, as we got off the tram at the final stop, we trailed after our fellow passengers, all ramblers, who were making their way determinedly towards those vineyards and the woods beyond them, the Wienerwald. We found a path which followed a stream
and started ambling slowly upwards – the walk was in no way strenuous.
The path first coasted houses buried at this time of year in luxuriant vegetation
but then it became more solitary.
At one point, we passed a little park dedicated to Beethoven.
It is said that he used to come over from nearby Heiligenstadt, where he spent many summers in his later years, to walk along this same path, which of course the marketing-savvy locals have named Beethovengasse, Beethoven Lane.
Further on, we passed the dead of Nussdorf, sleeping their eternal sleep at the foot of the vineyards
and now finally we were among the vineyards.
A few yards further on, we arrived at our destination, a heuriger
(a buschenschank in Styria; the owner of this heuriger must be a Styrian immigrant)
Heurigers, or wine taverns, dot the countryside around Vienna, selling the local wine, as well as simple food so that their patrons do not drink on an empty stomach. We had chosen this one from a map thoughtfully provided along the path by the local authorities, anxious to ensure that a good time was had by all.
We settled down in the tavern’s garden
and pleasantly whiled a way an hour or so, sipping on our wine-water mixes (it was a bit early for straight wine), nibbling at our dried sausages, cheese plate, and Greek salad, gazing out over the neighbouring vineyards
and generally enjoying that sense of gemütlichkeit – warmth, friendliness, and good cheer – which is the trademark of heurigers.
Suitably refreshed, and full of good cheer, we ambled slowly down the hill again, where I for one took advantage of the old-fashioned toilets, or pissoirs as the Austrians so picturesquely call them, helpfully provided at the tram stop by the local authorities
before climbing back into the D tram
and clanking slowly back into the city centre.
The stream Schreiberbach: https://www.tripadvisor.co.za/LocationPhotoDirectLink-g190454-d260626-i134059629-Vienna_Woods-Vienna.html
All other photos: ours